"Choose Your Own Adventure"
They're interactive. Start off and first few pages are same for everybody. And then you get to make choice about how the story is going to go.
You make wrong decision, and you die immediately.
The idea - you get to participate in the story. You're not just given a script that you have to play out. You get to make choice that actually affect the world. Which of course, brings us to Exodus 32. Where else?
Causes people great theological anguish.
I love it b/c I really think it shows this cool exchange between God and people.
Context: Egypt - between - Mediterranean Sea -to North
Red Sea - to South
(Famous Mountain) - Mount Sinai (Horeb)
Context: Moses has gone off to be with God, speak with God.
God's wanting to help the people.
And the people respond by doing what they always do: Get a little bit bored and start building statues and worshipping them.
By the time Moses is heading back, God is super mad…
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. (Exodus 32:7)
They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 32:8)
“I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. (Exodus 32:9)
Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” (Exodus 32:10)
Imagine you're in a choose your own adventure story here. God is furious with these people.
Comes to you in his fierce wrath and his words "Leave me alone. I want to go kill them all and start again with you Moses." I'd imagine the path you'd choose would be to do what God says and get the heck out of there.
I love you guys. But if God says 'Leave me alone! B/C Believers Center is outta here!' I feel like I'd just - get out of the way. Keep in mind - Moses is the one exception. I don't think that's the right time to get on God's bad side.
But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? (Exodus 32:11)
Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. (Exodus 32:12)
Is this really the time to talk back to God?
Moses says "Turn away from your fierce anger and change your mind."
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” (Exodus 32:13)
And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. (Exodus 32:14)
I can't tell if Moses is gutsy or stupid here. Moses 'How about you don't do that God.'
King James "Repent." He tells God to repent. And God repents.
God says "Here's the script. Here's what's going to happen." And Moses says "Let's change that." And then God changes it.
This is the kind of bible story that we in the west, who are consumed with understanding everything, we need to figure it out, and label it, and categorize it. B/C taken at face value, it has some really interesting implications.
B/C of the course the classic debate among Christians over the last 1000 years has been 'How much does God control?' 'How much goes God determine beforehand?'
Maybe he has already written the book, and we're just reading the book for the first time. OR - to what extend do we have free will? Are we given the power to choose?
There's a whole lot of scriptures that talk about how God will predestine things and shape things.
And then you have a whole lot of scriptures that place a huge effect on how we respond. - And then how God responds to us.
Stack up - scriptures. People stack up all the scriptures about God's sovereignty on one side, and stack up all the scriptures about free will on the other, and, I guess, whichever side is taller, that's what they go with.
Opposing scriptures. And then they go back and all the opposing scriptures - they just twist them to make them say what they want them to say.
In this case - some people will say "Well God knew what he was going to do. He was just testing Moses." You can totally think that, I'm just saying that's not what the text says.
When I was in bible college I found myself super interested in this stuff. All these people I'm about to describe are super great. No animosity in the world.
On one hand, you've got on this side - John Calvin - where people think that free will is basically in illusion.
And then somewhere in the middle you have armenians. - John Wesley people.
On the other side - you have people who are called 'Open Theists' where God doesn't pre-ordain OR even KNOW the future.
Of course they all call each other heretics, and it's all really exhausting to me.
It's not just an interesting conversation for Christians. Even people who have no belief in God, have these same conversations - they just talk about 'Fate'.
LOST - Who in here watched LOST? Lost in a crazy weird show - but in a really deep way it kinda deals with this issue. There's these people who have all this crazy stuff happen to them in their previous life and it all seems so random, but come to find out that there was a higher meaning in all of it. And it was just a part of your fate.
Signs We've seen the movie Signs? People think it's a movie about aliens, and it's not. It's about fate. Remember the little girl who has this fear of her water being contaminated so she leave glasses of water all around the house? Well turns out the aliens are allergic to water, so the fact that she's left water glasses all around the house turns out to be the thing that saves them. So her fear was actually a part of her fate.
On one hand, I can totally see how just thinking that everything that's happening is exactly what God wants is a comforting thought. Really I do. Especially when you're hurting. But on the other hand, it makes life supremely meaningless. If God chooses whether or not the poor will be fed, then why should you worry about it?
However you wanna land on the theological side of things, I think we can all agree that there's seems to be an incredible amount of responsibility placed on the people of God.
There are far too many people - maybe you, maybe people you know, that have already accepted a script for their life that someone else has assigned to them.
I feel like I talk all the time to young people who have grown up without a mom or a dad - and it's just this fatalistic way of seeing the world. "No matter what I do, this is where I'm headed." "This is how it always is for my family."
A parent or some authority figure "You're never gonna amount to anything." And that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and people just think their future has already been written.
Maybe you've made some big mistakes in your life and b/c of that you just think the future is going to be your time to pay for it. Like your book has already been written.
Some of you - medical stuff.
Romans 9 - Vessels for destruction
Me Reading Romans 9 - "That's me!"
I remember when I first started reading the bible and came upon Romans 9 - (and I've done plenty on messages on how those are brutally misinterpreted and mean the exact opposite of what lots of people use those verses for) - but I remember reading these verses about how God created some vessels for destruction, and I just remember thinking "Oh my god! That is SO me!!! That's why I keep going down to these altar calls, but still keep doing dumb stuff. It's cause I'm destined for destruction!"
I felt like my book had already been written. It's not just God that would be writing these books. It's people.
Just the idea that there's an inevitable outcome that you can't change or do anything about.
A lot of times, we enjoy our own self-limiting beliefs because it lets us off the hook. We don't have to try. Trying something new is super scary.
OUTLET When we launched this ministry, we had no idea what we were doing. We first met once per month, then we ended up going to twice per month. And then when we went to every week and opened it up to everybody, it was totally terrifying, and still is. B/C I didn't know how to lead a community like this. In a lot of ways I'm still figuring it out.
But I've learned that God is able to do really cool things when I actually have the guts to go for something.
A thousand examples in scripture of people thinking that God could never use them to do something amazing, and he does.
In fact, we know that often times when God is doing something that is smack dab in the middle of our inadequacy that he's able to do the most amazing things.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
James 4:3b You have not, because you ask not.
I know that sounds like Yoda. But man, what a challenge.
In my own life, there's certain things I just assume God won't do or can't do.
He reminds me: You have not because you ask not. If you'd ask me, if you just give me a chance.
CHALLENGE 1 - Have the courage to believe that things can get better.
& even ask.
The difference between what people CAN do and what they actually do is incredible.
ESPECIALLY if you're a Christian.
In Exodus 32 - Moses is a very special man. He has a special relationship with God, not just any person could do what he did.
But then the NT comes and changes all that.
Jesus tells his disciples - It's actually better for you that I leave, so that I can send the holy spirit.
And that Holy Spirit is the same presence of God that empowered Moses and even Jesus himself.
So now, whereas before there were these select few who had God's presence, who could do this kind of stuff, but now, we all have that ability.
In the books of Acts - 120 people get together and have a prayer meeting. The holy spirit falls on them and all of a sudden there's all these people who really do believe that they can change the script.
They can go into these towns where people have just accepted that life will be how it will be, and these disciples would come in and utterly disrupt their whole world.
Acts refers to the Christians as 'those who turned the world upside down.'
Peter and John are walking they come along a paralyzed man who's begging.
Who basically has 2 options.
See's Peter and John walking by and says "Give me some money."
Their response - King James is the best - "Silver and Gold have I none, but such I have, I give unto thee in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
That's not in this mans script.
God comes in opens up options to this man that weren't options before. We see this over and over and over.
1 Corinthians 3:9 - We are co-laborer with God.
Crazy thing to say. God calls us to participate in what he's doing in the world.
You have not, because you ask not. (James 4:2b)
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)
He's saying that when we pray, sometimes it doesn't work b/c we're just being selfish.
And remember in Exodus 32, Moses is already safe. He's not in danger. And what really moves the heart of God is when Moses asks for HIS PEOPLE.
Side: Moses' prayer ≠ our prayer.
Throughout the bible - so many of the amazing things we see happen is when people pray, not for themselves, but for somebody else.
And so many of us don't even get to that place. Where we're so consumed with the things that we need and we want, that we don't even find ourselves concerned with other people who may be hurting, and then we're surprised that we're not used by God is amazing ways.
For whatever kind of movement this church is, and I really do believe that there's some amazing stuff that has come from this church, I really believe the big impact comes from you guys living in a way that impacts people out there.
I'm so glad that people would come here and be encouraged, and be helped, and he challenged.
But really, we're hoping that you'd come here and experience enough disruption that you'd go out and actually live differently.
That in a small way, this ministry would be something that would change the script for lots of people in our city.
One of the main ways we do that is to pray for them. But not just that, but to also say to God 'I'm making myself available. If there's anything you'd want to do through me, or say through me, even if it's hard, even if it's awkward, even if it's inconvenient.
I think the time has come for us to stop trusting in tele-evangelists, and preachers to make a change in our communities, and we actually start taking responsibility.
CHALLENGE 2 - Open your heart to the fact that God can use you in ways you never thought possible.
A lot of churches - want to impact their city not for the sake of the people, but just so that their numbers can be really big and impressive and they can feel like a success.
That's one thing I'm really proud of when it comes to Outlet. Not everyone who comes here likes what we do. But I don't think people think they come here and we're wanting something from them. Or that we're just trying to do some gimmick so make our numbers swell.
I want people to come here because I think that coming into a community like that can really change the script for a lot of people.
I think often times this comes from a place of really caring for people. Enough to make it awkward. To actually invite them or take them out to eat or have a serious discussion with them.
We as co-laborers with Christ actually have the power to change people's stories in really meaningful ways.
Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. (Acts 4:29)
Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:30)
See this interaction.
We pray that God will give us boldness.
Then God comes and does something really miraculous.
You can actually see this happen:
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31)
Simple Message - In your own life :
Where have I begun to see my own story in a fatalistic way?
Where have you stopped believing that God could come and do something really cool and beautiful?
Maybe for some: Marriage - Kids - Job - Circumstances
If God could do anything, what could he do?
Find your way back to faith again.